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Journey of grieving mother: Healing by lending a hand to other grieving parents

June 15, 2021

Heather Talbot is a former client and current volunteer at the bereavement program. She came to Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities as a bereaved mother after losing her son in a car accident in 2009. She now facilitates bereavement groups and one-on-one with other bereaved parents at SCHC.

Why did you come to SCHC as a client?

I had already gone to the bereaved families of Ontario as a client after losing my son in a car crash. I had my 10 sessions once a week, but I was still grieving so strongly for my son. I saw an ad in the Scarborough mirror, looking for people who had lost an adult child to come to a bereavement group. And so, I came to SCHC, where it just feels very loving, welcoming, and an inclusive environment.’

Viviane, who was leading the bereavement group, was the person who interviewed me to take the training because they needed volunteers to give peer support to other bereaved parents. I found the training to be therapeutic. I’ve recommended the training to clients that I’ve had in my groups and after training, they have even co-facilitated groups with me. We’re all in this together, and we’re all hurting, and we all want to help each other, and only other bereaved parents know what it’s like. I’ve been doing it now for six years, and I find it’s very healing for myself.

What was the feeling when you walked into that room?

I didn’t know anybody in my personal life who had lost a child; you feel like you’re being punished. Then you meet all these other lovely people who are on the same boat. Whether we lost a child because of a car crash, like, in my case, or whether it was a disease, whatever it is, we are all grieving. We can all understand how that feels, and it’s going to open up some deep wounds, and you’re going to cry. It’s okay to cry, the tears are healing, and that’s the main thing. It’s the raw emotions that these groups bring out. We can all help each other, support each other, and I think people are looking for that kind of support.

Why volunteer?

Well, it’s a purpose, and it’s something that I’m doing from my heart. I had this idea, I’ll go to the group, and then I’ll be fixed. Well, that doesn’t happen, but the group really did help. And so, it just happened that when I came here as a client, and then I was asked to take the training, I thought, oh, that will make it three years since my son died. So, to me, it was the perfect time to help myself heal. Part of it is doing this having a purpose in my life. This came directly from the loss of my son; I would not be helping other bereaved parents if I were not a bereaved parent. When I was in a group with other people and the facilitators were also bereaved parents, everybody there gets it. It’s been nine years since my son passed away, and it does get easier as time goes by, but I still cry when I talk about my son, and things still trigger me. In the groups, we’ll all be crying, and then we’ll be laughing for some reason. It’s like, wow, we never thought we would ever laugh again. So, you know, all these positives come out of it. I feel like I can pay it forward and help other people on their journey to healing. It makes you feel like you have a purpose and they’re doing good, that you’re helping, and that you’re paying forward what you got when you needed it.

If you could pick the proudest moment in all your journey of this so far, what do you think when your proudest moments would be?

I do feel that the proudest moment is one particular client. She, she looked so down, her son had completed suicide, and she looked old beyond her years. She just looked so depressed. I saw a real change in her as the weeks went on, and she was one that I encouraged to take the training, and she facilitated a group with me. She said to the group, Heather saved my life. That, to me, was my proudest moment.

To learn more about the Bereavement program please visit here.